I distinctly remember this moment in yoga class when we were vigorously going through a series of sun salutes, and I, who was not pregnant at the time, felt exhausted. Then I thought of my friend next to me cruising through the sun salutes – at nine and a half months pregnant!
Unfortunately, I had to stop going to regular yoga classes at six months pregnant due to the intense nausea. Instead, I practiced yoga at home using audio and video pregnancy yoga classes (see sample below). So I was super impressed by my friend Eliza, who practiced yoga in our regular yoga class up until the week before she gave birth. She’s an inspiration to all mommas to stay flexible and strong during pregnancy.
I found that practicing prenatal yoga also gave me a chance to turn inwards. The experience helped me to practice deep yogic breathing and take the time to visualize a positive birth experience. Yoga also helped to strengthen my legs, open my hips, relieve tension in my lower back, and build my balance. It also encouraged me to become aware of my body changes so that I could connect with my daughter inside me.
Prenatal yoga works great at home or at a studio, whichever works best for you, whenever it suits your schedule. I learned these recommendations for pregnant women during yoga teacher training:
- Avoid backbends: This includes Cobra Pose and Upward-Facing Dog Pose during your pregnancy. These intense backbends pull too harshly through the front of the your body and the lumbar area.
- Avoid twists: Twists stop the blood flow to your uterus and are not recommended for pregnant women.
- Do not engage in breath retention: Pregnant women should not restrict their oxygen supply to their bodies, so breath retention is not advised.
5 Standing Prenatal Yoga Poses
Eliza has demonstrated some of the standing poses that are perfect for pregnant women:
1. Mountain Pose
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Close your eyes (if that is comfortable) and think of standing tall and strong. Take a few deep yogic breaths. Think of grounding your feet down into the earth.
2. Warrior 1 Pose
From Mountain Pose, step your right foot back, slightly angling it outwards. Bend your left knee so that your knee is directly over your foot then bring your arms straight up towards the sky while opening your chest. Look up. Think of building power and dynamic energy throughout your body. Take a few deep breaths in this pose. Build strength in your legs. (Move on to the next pose before repeating Warrior 1 on the other side.)
Warrior 1 Pose
3. Warrior 2 Pose
From Warrior 1 Pose, bring your right arm back and your left arm forwards so that your arms are parallel to the ground. Open your hips, bend your left knee (still in front), and look forward along your extended left arm. Repeat the Warrior 1 Pose to Warrior 2 Pose flow again on the opposite side.
Warrior 2 Pose
4. Tree Pose
Step forward to Mountain Pose. Shift your weight to stand on one leg, bend your knee, place the sole of your foot on your inner thigh (or calf, but do not rest your foot against your knee), and balance. Bring your arms above your head and touch your palms together, if your flexibility and balance allow you to. Repeat the steps on the opposite standing leg.
5. Dancer’s Pose
Come back to Mountain Pose. Shift your weight to stand on one leg, reach the other leg out behind you, and place the outside of your foot into your hand. Slowly bend your torso forward with your arm straight out in front, using it for balance, and arch your leg up behind you. Repeat the steps standing on the opposite leg.
6. Easy Pose
Come down to sitting comfortably cross-legged. You could sit on a cushion or bolster to raise your hips. Rest your palms on your knees. Ensure that your spine is tall and your shoulders and chest are open. Close your eyes or glance down at the ground in front of you. Take a few deep breaths. Choose an empowering mantra or simply listen to the sound of your breath. You could also take yourself through a visualization imagining your dream birth experience. Rest and meditate. Take your time here and slow things down for you and your baby.
A special thank you to my dear friend Eliza for being our prenatal yoga model and to my gorgeous cousin Trish from Salt Water Photography for lending us her amazing photography skills. Stay tuned for the next post in this prenatal yoga series with five seated poses.
Please consult your health professional to design a safe and beneficial yoga practice that works for you.
You might also like:
Prenatal Yoga Video
This is the 25-minute Prenatal Yoga video, led by Liza Janda, that I practiced at home during my pregnancy:
Yoga Books for Kids
To continue practicing yoga with your little one, purchase one of our yoga stories for kids. Our yoga book, Good Night, Animal World, is perfect for infants and toddlers to practice calming yoga poses before bedtime.
|Good Night, Animal World
|Good Night, Animal World
For more yoga tips and kids yoga resources, sign up for our weekly Kids Yoga Stories newsletter by adding your email address to the box at the top of the page.